For my birthday last year, I received a L'Occitane en Provence gift set. Amongst other products, this set included a small tube of their Verbena Cooling Hand Cream gel. In the past, I have been very impressed with the L'Occitane hand creams so I was very keen to give this one a try. In addition, the small 10ml tube was the perfect size to slip into my handbag.
* The Brand *
L'Occitane en Provence is a beauty brand founded in 1976. They specialise in 'natural' beauty products with a firm emphasis on natural active ingredients and sustainability. They support local producers in Provence, and other regions of France, in the use of traditional product methods and, through this, aim to protect endangered cultures. They also place a strong emphasis on the importance of sensual pleasure - one thing that I love about the L'Occitane brand is that all their products smell amazing. A visit to one of their stores is a true sensory delight, with a much more 'natural' fragrance than somewhere like Lush which can be a bit over-powering even from the other side of a shopping mall. L'Occitane products are not tested on animals and the only products of animal origin used in their production process are from beehives (such as honey and royal jelly).
* The Product *
Verbena Cooling Hand Cream gel comes in a small silver tube with a black screw top lid. The product information is in both English and French and describes it as being made with 'Organic Verbena Extract'. This provides a lemony fragrance which claims to revive and energise the senses, helping to banish tiredness and stress. My version is a 10ml sample tube, but the full-sized version comes in a 30ml tube. Application of this product is very simple. You simply squeeze a small amount on to your hands and massage it in. The initial sensation is of a smooth creamy texture which feels lovely as you massage it into your hands. It is absorbed very easily and quickly dries to what feels like a much more matte finish that I would expect from a hand-cream. This makes it ideal for applying at your desk, for example, as your hands feel dry to the touch very quickly and there is no greasy residue that could apply itself to your keyboard. The aroma of this product is gorgeous - the lemony scent of the verbena extract is joined by hints of orange, geranium and lemon tree which really do make me feel more alert and uplifted. The scent lingers for a relatively long time and I find that a little sniff of this fragrance acts as a genuine mood-enhancer.
* Results *
Although I love the initial sensation of the cream, and the speed in which it absorbs, I don't feel that it is as effective as a moisturiser as I would hope. The matte finish feels smooth and my hands feel soft, but they don't feel as pampered as I would like them to. The fresh scent and cooling properties of the hand cream gel make me feel that it is more of a summer product than an Autumn / Winter one. It definitely makes my hands feel softer and fresher immediately after application, but I am finding that I need to re-apply it frequently to sustain the feeling of softness throughout the day. In my opinion, it would be better to use something with a deeper level of moisturisation (such as their Shea Butter hand cream) during the colder months but this would be ideal for warmer weather due to the cooling sensation immediately after application. I also find it a little bit sticky at times - particularly around my rings, even though I take the rings off to apply the cream.
* Cost *
A 30ml tube of the Verbena Cooling Hand Cream Gel costs £8.00 and is shown on the website as a limited edition, online exclusive. There is also a 75ml version which costs £14.00.
* Final Thoughts *
I would recommend this product as something to slip into your holiday handbag, or for commuting on hot summer days, but not necessarily as a proper moisturising hand cream. The cooling properties, the fresh, uplifting fragrance and the speed in which it dries to a matte finish are all definite plus points for me, but I just feel like I need something that almost cocoons my hands in moisture and makes me feel like they are truly being pampered. It is also relatively expensive for something that is more of a short-term fix than a long-term solution to a problem. I am giving this product three stars because, if you see it for what it actually is, a cooling hand cream gel rather than a moisturiser, then it performs very well. The problem for me is getting my head round the fact that it doesn't really moisturise...
~All that Glitters is not Gold~
My love of almost all things from the French company l'Occitane means I occasionally pick up something utterly ridiculous, lured by the promise of deliciously smelling products and forgetting to ask myself what the point of the product is actually supposed to be. I expect to love everything they make but I should probably be a bit more selective. I had tested the 'Cooling Hand Cream Gel with Organic Verbena Extract' in an airport duty free so I knew that it smelled absolutely fabulous. I'd somehow forgotten to check if it was actually any good as a hand cream. A few months later, a particularly generous friend who decided to send me a present 'just because' ordered a L'Occitane verbena gift box from John Lewis, stuffed with lots of lovely goodies and a tube of Cooling Hand Cream Gel. Everything else was superb but the gel is a dud.
The first question we should ask is undoubtedly "What is it supposed to be?" and I'm not entirely sure. It looks like a hand cream, it smells like a hand cream, it comes out of a little silver tube (if you have the 30ml version) like all the L'Occitane hand creams and you rub it on your hands, just like a hand cream. So far I would expect you're thinking "It looks like a duck, it paddles like a duck and it quacks like a duck". You're not expecting me to tell you it's a chicken. But quite possibly it is.
The product is not supposed to be a moisturising hand cream at all. It's supposed to lift the spirits of your hot sweaty paws, cool them down, reduce swelling and leave them feeling dry and unsweaty. I can partly believe all those things but this product is designed to solve a problem that I don't have. I can't think of a time when I've ever found myself yearning for something to make my hands cool and unpuffy. I could kind of understand such claims in a foot product - think Princess Diana's old favourite, the Body Shop Peppermint Foot Lotion - but never my hands.
Whilst I enjoy the brief blast of cooling sensation I get from a small blob of this product and I adore the intensely juicy fragrance of it, I absolutely hate the way it leaves my hands feeling dry and almost powdery. My mind starts telling me that my hands need moisture, that the skin is about to crack up and has me reaching frantically for whatever moisturising goop I can find nearby. The blurb on the tube tells me that it's supposed to 'moisturise and refresh' (actually it says 'moisturize' so it must be intended for Americans). Yes it refreshes but I can't honestly endorse the claim that it moisturises. Cools and dries would be my three word summing up of this product.
The fabulous scent is mostly given by the organic verbena extract. Verbena is an astonishing plant which manages to smell more like a lemon than a lemon does. Isn't nature amazing? The smell is not all verbena though; the clever folks at L'Occitane have squeezed in some orange, geranium and lemon tree extracts as well to create a scent so juicy that it's like a frozen lemon sorbet. The dry powdery feel which I dislike so much is almost certainly down to the tapioca powder which is added to the gel. I can imagine that if you suffer from sweaty hands, a tube of this could help but obviously I can't prove that either way.
~A Potentially Expensive Mistake~
A 75 ml tube of this will set you back £14 or slightly less if you can find it duty free or as part of a collection of products. My 30 ml tube was part of a gift set so wouldn't be as expensive but I don't think the small format is available on its own. I think £14 is a ridiculous price because it's not something I need but I can imagine for those who do have sweaty, puffy hands, it might feel like a bit of a bargain. I find the name 'cooling hand cream gel' misleading since I'm sure I am not the only person mislead into expecting a hand cream rather than a cooling product.
I won't bore you with the ingredients list and I'm sure that if you're allergic or avoiding any particular ingredients you'll already be used to checking things out online or on pack before you buy. A good proportion of the ingredients are of natural origin and like all L'Occitane products, the extracts that are used are of excellent quality. Once opened the contents of the tube should be fine for up to 12 months, though I would admit I often keep products much longer than that and haven't come across any problems. I very much doubt that this tube will get finished but I may have to go looking for a friend with hot, sweaty hands who likes the smell of lemons.
Unique gel turns to a matte, powdery finish, reducing perspiration and swelling sensations / Enriched with organic verbena extract and tapioca powder to soothe and absorb, leaving hands feeling dry and cooled / The aroma of verbena, orange, geranium and lemon tree appeals to men and women /